There are lots of gurus online. So, it’s kind of nice to encounter someone that doesn’t pretend to be.
I first came across Austin Lawson on Medium at the end of 2018 and he was saying things like — “The lean startup was designed for people with no money.” and “When I first started my entrepreneurial journey, I could barely pay my bills and I was looking for a way out.”
Those statements really spoke to me as not only did I agree with them, I was in a similar situation. Starting a business or making extra money online seemed impossible, but he appeared to have it all figured out.
in 2018, I reached out to him on Instagram but wasn’t sure what to expect or if he’d even respond. Not only did he respond — he spent hours just chatting with me, giving advice and answering questions.
Lawson’s knowledge level was so far above and beyond what I ever expected. It was like talking to Gary Vee, if you could get him alone and off-camera. During that time, he shared his background, details of things he had done, exactly how he had done it and never once asked for anything in return.
He even did several tours overseas as a military contractor supporting US Special Forces and while he was in countries like Syria, he built an online business and created streams of revenue. In fact, that’s how he earned “The Combat Entrepreneur” title that you see in most of his bio’s today.
Even with all of that, if I (or anyone) were to reach out, he would likely drop everything and take the time to help because that’s who he is.
The Lean Startup
During our initial conversation, Lawson shared with me that he had grown up in a single-parent household and survived on welfare and other government assistance until the time he graduated high school and had to fend for himself.
Early in his adult life and around the time he started his entrepreneurial journey, he could barely pay his bills. Yet, somehow, he was able to overcome those challenges and became a successful entrepreneur. However, if you asked him, he’d say “semi-successful.”
His lean startup tips are gold because he’s been there and is the real deal. He’s failed and struggled to the brink of bankruptcy. If you are the average, struggling and in debt person, you want the advice of someone who has actually been in your situation — or at least that’s how I feel.
Here are some of the tips that Lawson shared with me during that long conversation. Over the past few years, I’ve been able to use these to actually start profitable micro-businesses while maintaining my full-time job.
1. Stop trying to earn a million dollars by building a corporation. Rather, look for the grunt work and focus on earning real money today. There is a reason that people pay others to mow their lawns and clean their houses — because no one wants to do it. Identify or develop a skill and do things that no one else wants to do. For example, writing articles and creating social media content are things that people hate to do themselves. Join niche forums where people are looking for these things and start selling. It’s better to earn $100 today doing grunt work than to earn zero dollars starting a corporation.
2. Focus on side hustles that you can afford. Lawson didn’t have any money to invest, so he wrote eBooks to sell on Amazon. He also wrote articles for other people’s blogs and content for their website. He didn’t have any experience as a writer, he just started selling and figured it out along the way. I’ll say from experience that it works because I did the same thing. Making money from these types of businesses are great because the investment on your part is simply time. You don’t need fancy equipment, a degree, or even a website.
3. Get out of debt. Once you start making money and building a client base, use that extra money to start paying off debt. You’ll never be able to properly scale a business when 75 percent of your earnings are going toward bills. Use this opportunity to speed up this process.
4. Stop looking for instant gratification. It takes time to do things like paying off debt and building a business. Life is about the pursuit of happiness. You will have more fun building the business than you will be running it once it’s built. Enjoy the process, take your time and focus on earning real dollars, growing a client base and getting out of debt.
5. When you have to start turning down business, start learning and researching ways to outsource. You don’t want to do the grunt work yourself forever. Find two or three good people that can take some of your workload but ensure that they will do it for 50 percent of what you are charging your customers and DO NOT tell them where you are getting your clients. You don’t want them to cut out the middleman. This is called scaling. Theoretically, you could grow it as large as you’d like.
6. Once you are out of debt and you are earning a significant income from your side business, start investing your side income into other business ventures. This is called diversification. The goal is to have multiple streams of income, that way if one crashes, you still have others earning. During this time, you should be paying bills and saving at least 30 percent of all income earned from your day job.
This process is not difficult. Lawson did it and I’m doing it. However, most people will not because it’s hard. It takes a significant amount of time and effort, but if you are willing to do the work, the benefits will come.
This content is sponsored by Jim Bevin.